Future Sound Systems Makrow - 8hp, white, and has multiple CV outs for a single large knob. Super handy.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the visual side is important too. As far as some of the hard to find and discontinued stuff, try to figure out exactly what those modules are doing internally and buy individual sound sources and utilities to recreate that. Therein lies the beauty of modular.
First, in reference to your other post, I think you will discover why so many people stick with the bigger/more popular names in the modular community... because they are available. Many of the modules you have chosen here are discontinued (Cjwemann, ZVex, Error Instruments, Folktek) and will be very hard to source. Even if you find them on the used market, you will likely pay a $$$ premium versus something that is readily available and will perform a similar task. Sure, the cheaper or more plentiful modules in production may not have the same niche or "cool" factor, but the point is the music, not the name on the faceplate.
I'll take a look at your arrangement and look for missing utilities etc. later today. Some of the other folks here will probably have some common beginner guidance on that.
Have fun and good luck!
Thanks, I'm checking FSS out as we speak. What are your favorites from them? I love hearing recs of companies I haven't heard of yet because it seems like of the thousands of modules shown on this site, people are almost afraid to get anything that isn't one of the top say 20 brands.
The Recombination Engine is probably my favorite FSS module. It's a unique take on an analog triple oscillator. All of their stuff has an interesting approach though. The Gristleizer filter and VCA are pretty fun too (especially if you are a fan of Throbbing Gristle). Schlappi Engineering makes really cool/noisy modules too. The 100 Grit filter is on my radar for later in the year.
Right on. Sounds cool. Be sure to share some of your tracks here.
Yeah, I wouldn't set any artificial boundaries. Just do your research and find what works best for the sound you need regardless of analog/digital. The Error Instruments stuff is pretty wild. For what you are doing, take a look at Future Sound Systems stuff too (I'm the forum's resident Future Sound Systems fanboy. Haha).
Have fun and good luck.
My advice is to figure out what you need your rack to do, and then buy the best version of the module that does that thing.
Analog... digital... doesn't really matter as long as you can accomplish your musical goal. If you need a resonator like Rings or something, it's gonna be really hard to do that with analog.
Have fun and good luck.
I don't have any direct experience with the others you mentioned. I spent a fair amount of time watching and listening to demos of many complex oscillators and found the Furthrrr Generator to be the best sounding to my ears. With the added flexibility of the strong zero VCO core as a possible "upgrade," it's the one that most appealed to me. If I hadn't picked the Furthrrr, I probably would have gone with the DPO. That one seems to have a unique sound. Let your ears be your guide.
Good luck and have fun!
The tuning knobs don't have much resistance so a slight touch can knock the oscillator out of tune, but I haven't noticed a slight detune or anything when both are tuned to A. I do make a lot of dissonant music though, so "close enough" is usually fine for me. Haha.
I don't have the Strong Zero VCO Core installed. Mine is still all analog, and I've found that it's a well-built and stable module. As with anything in Euro, YMMV.
Just curious how you all are using external instruments (specifically electric guitar) with your rack. I don't recall seeing a thread about this recently, so I figured I would start one.
I recently got back into playing guitar (sort of a post-punk/shoegaze style), and have a Doepfer A119 input and plenty of signal processors, but no good output module. Curious how everyone else is getting instrument signals in and out, connecting your rack to guitar amps (?), effects loops, pedal interfaces, etc.
I'm open to any interesting sound design ideas and recommended modules.
Hi Nicholas. In my experience, it really does come down to personal wants and needs. If something is advertised as "lo-fi," it's probably going to sound and react "lo-fi", and it's up to you to decide whether that is right for your rack. Do as much research as possible to avoid spending money on things that aren't right for YOU.
You can usually get a good idea about the quality and reliability of very specific modules over on the MuffWiggler forum. I don't really think there are inherently good or bad manufacturers or modules. For instance, I like some of the Endorphin.es stuff, but many users have had trouble with noise on some of their 6hp modules. I have had no such trouble with my Milky Way 6hp fx. The Furthrrr Generator by the same manufacturer is outstanding and fairly well regarded. It may be a matter of consistency and firmware on their digital modules.
I do tend to shy away from DIY modules that other individuals have built, probably unjustly. The clones I have gotten from After Later have been great, but I'm not sure I trust DIY from a random individual. That's my personal preference. I know there is a semi-well-known Mutable clone builder (who shall remain nameless) that many have had trouble with. Not so much module quality, but actually receiving their modules from this particular builder. I ordered a Triple Sloths clone from this builder and received the runaround and claims of "lost in the mail" until I opened a dispute. Many others have had the same experience with this builder. I would lean towards supporting the original designer and manufacturer instead of buying too many clones. Of course, space is always an issue so the clone thing is a personal choice.
Overall, the only "bad" modules I've purchased have been the ones that I didn't research fully. They did exactly what they were supposed to do, but that specific sound/interface/function was completely wrong for my setup and workflow.
Ah, OK. I'm not that familiar with the Bitbox or the Robaux, but they look fairly powerful.
For ambient sounds, I would probably be looking at adding more random modulation like a Triple Sloths and a sample and hold, or something similar. Marbles may be another good addition, but Bloom might achieve some of the same things as Marbles. A way to mix CV signals, like the Happy Nerding 3xMIA, would probably be a fun addition.
I also like low pass gates a lot for plucky percussive sounds. They can be fairly inexpensive and can act sort of like a filtered VCA. A nice wavfeolder could give you a new range of tones too.
I also live in a place where there aren't many people interested in synths. Not even my friends... haha.
Welcome to MG! Have fun and good luck.
Yeah, without knowing what kind of music you are doing, or if you have any other gear, it's going to be hard to guide you on anything too specific. I'm in agreement with Jim that this doesn't look like much research was conducted prior to building a playable instrument.
Fill us in with more details on what you are trying to accomplish with this. How do you see Eurorack solving a problem?
I forgot to mention, I find that the Moffenzeef modulation and utility modules are really interesting and unique if you can still find them somewhere. His voices and noise sources are a little more limited in my book. I have the Moffenmix, Mito, and Deviant and love them. I got rid of the Muskrat though. It was one of those things that I just couldn't fit in anywhere. All of his stuff is weird, but not always in the most useful way. YMMV.
Alright, here's my take. I left your modulation sources alone for the most part and concentrated on voices and mixing. I've been researching similar rack ideas and noise sources myself.
I replaced Manis with BIA. BIA is so powerful and Manis ultimately seems a little limited and same-y to me. It's just not quite as versatile to me.
The MCO seems like a completely overlooked oscillator. It's got PWM, digital noise, and a sub-octave out in 6hp and under $200. I would use this and the Patching Panda Shuby linear feedback shift register to create your own percussion with the Patching Panda Punch v3. That could negate the need for the Crater.
You already have a PLL with the Interstellar Radio (the only module I regret selling), so the Doepfer PLL might be a bit redundant. I added the 100 Grit filter and Dark Matter feedback mixer just because they are so gnarly. You could probably eliminate the 100 Grit if you want to just use the Serge for filtering. You could probably also eliminate the 3xVCA and add a Bastl Waver for gnarly wavefolding since you have the VCAs in the Patching Panda, Befaco, and Dark Matter. Always a consideration with noise racks should be the X1L3 modules (Shard, Underwurlde, Wreckage). I've got the Shard and it's impossible to tame.
I would have a lot of fun with this rack. Let me know what you think.
Hi @nickgreenberg. Thanks for your thoughts here. Some great things to consider.
As far as the Spotify thing, BT's thoughts and experience with AI are presented in about the last 15 minutes of that podcast. I've read through a few things about Spotify's "Creator Technology Research Lab" but there isn't a whole to of good info on what exactly their goals are with generative music. I'm not sure if there are any academic papers on the topic and with Spotify being a private company, I'm sure they are keeping data, algorithms, and strategy pretty close to the vest. In general though, it seems like Spotify is a data company masquerading as a jukebox... and they get to keep the money. I can't say that I am a big fan of BT's music, but he definitely knows what he is talking about in regards to music technology and the future.
Regarding drum modules, I have a small subsection at the bottom left dedicated to drums and drum sequencing. I also incorporate an external drum machine here. I've been working more towards synthesizing my own percussion tones with the Patching Panda Punch v3 and low pass gates, and so it makes sense for my workflow to have a drum section integrated within the larger rack. Your recommendation of waveshapers/wavefolders will come in handy here. In fact, I have switched out a few modules since I initially posted the rack image above so I can include a wavfeolder. I haven't decide if I want an Intellijel or Instruo yet. I will definitely try the audio rate switching with the Switchblade. I still have some time to tweak my remaining 104hp before I commit to anything.
And finally, your recommendation for submixers is one that is essential for everyone (and especially noobs) to consider. I have pondered that exact question quite a bit and have ultimately decided to adhere to Jim's insistence over multiple threads that I add a larger matrix mixer (as opposed to smaller submixers). I reasoned that each level of submixing that I incorporate limits the amount of control I have over single sounds at the end of the signal path. If I submix drums, what happens if I decide I want to add reverb to a single snare hit or send just hi-hats to a delay? I could probably use a few more buffered mults, but I have a considerable amount of external passive mults, so signal splitting isn't much of a problem. From a performance perspective I reasoned that a dedicated mixing section worked for me. With the Toppobrillo, Erica Fusion and Drum Mixers, and the Doepfer matrix all in one area of the rack, I can perform with a dub approach that makes sense to me. I can also use the matrix mixer along with the 3xMIA to mix CV in interesting ways, so it seems like a winner. As much as I love the WMD Performance Mixer, I had not initially planned to go this big with the rack, and so I ended up with multiple mixers. I'm actually pretty happy with the feature set and sound quality of the mixing section I've cobbled together. I do have the Moffenzeef Moffenmix (not pictured here) that I can always add back in if I find a need for more mixers.
Thanks again for your thoughts. These are all very useful ideas to ponder.
Take care and enjoy your weekend.
@troux will probably have some good advice for you here. I've tossed around the idea of adding the Erica Bassline to my rack. It sounds really good. As it is though, I already have the inexpensive Behringer TD3 (16 step sequencer) and haven't been able to justify the cost of the Bassline just yet.
Have fun and good luck.
Hi Joystick. Even with the new version, you are missing a considerable amount of functions to make this an enjoyable instrument. You don't seem to have a mixer or VCAs included in the new rack... Those are going to be pretty important. Part of the joy of techno is adding and removing pieces, fading sounds in and out. How will you do that in this rack?
If you really want to include all of these large modules, you are going to need to add a third row. You could probably fit a good techno starter rack in 2x84hp, but not with the modules you have chosen. Don't get me wrong, these are all cool, but you need some extra pieces.
You would be wise to listen to Lugia's concerns here. I think you would be frustrated instantly with this configuration.
Have fun and good luck!
Edit* Oops... My mistake, I overlooked the Joranalogue VCA thing.
Farkas awesome rack.and thank you for suggestions for interactive controller modules in my thread.
i am thinking about selling my mantis case,as i just got a bigger case
Thanks @Broken-Form. I've had some fun making generative patches, but the interactive method is so much more attractive to me. Let us know which control modules you add to your rack. What kind of case did you decide to upgrade to?
I picked up two of these from Amazon, though I'm sure you could find something similar elsewhere. I use one to hang all of my cables from the edge of my table-style desk and the other to hang headphones. They rotate so you can tuck them under the desk when not in use. Also, I've been using fairly inexpensive Excel Valley patch cables. I color code them by length so I know quickly what to reach for.
Welcome, Pete. What kind of music are you interested in making with this?
First things first, you do not have enough voices to make use of Harmonaig. Marbles already includes a quantizer, and Plaits has a pseudo-polyphonic chord mode, so Harmonaig will be a fairly expensive paperweight in a rack of this size. The Qu-Bit Chord v2 may be a suitable replacement as it has similar functionality and includes built-in oscillators (it's also smaller).
I've been using ALM's mmMidi module for MIDI input. That may be an option to check out.
Otherwise, I would just encourage you to consider if the Mutable Instruments user interface is right for you. Their elegance and sound quality are great, for sure, but I personally don't get along well with some of the opaque button combos and different colors of LED mean different modes and functions, etc. Others here love that way of working, or at least tolerate it.
Have fun and good luck!
Wow you got a very nice rack there! :-) Some great choices of modules. I would love to have that Furthrrrr generator :-)
Sorry, I am a bit confused is this your final rack or is this what you have now and in April you are going to extend it?
I have the A-138m Doepfer Matrix module and I love it, it gives you some great flexibility, so just go for it :-)
With such a rack every weekend must be fantastic, so I wish you just yet another great weekend! Kind regards, Garfield.
Thanks @GarfieldModular. The Furthrrr Generator is a fun module.
The rack pictured is my final plan. I have almost all of it currently, but still need to fill about 104hp of this plan. I'm still debating a few of the modules to include in that 104hp, but this should be fairly close to the final outcome.
Currently I have two Mantis cases and three Make Noise skiffs (so, 728hp filled). I will be swapping out the skiffs for two more Mantis cases in April or May, giving me 832hp.
I will be holding on to two of the skiffs as a portable live rig in case I decide to do some live performances. I have a friend in Leipzig who is encouraging me to play in some noise festivals or art shows in Germany when I visit again after COVID, so we'll see what happens.
Have a great weekend!
Lol. Who doesn't need more blinkenlights and VCAs?
As far as potential additions, I've got 20-some VCAs including the ones built-in to modules, but I would consider adding another quad or hex VCA just in case I decide to get weird with it some fine evening, and the Joranalogue comparator for some extra logic functions. Other than that, I'm at my blinkenlight limit. haha
Nice rack @farkas, but where's the Akemie's Castle??
Ha! You don't know how many times I have added both Akemie's Castle and Akemie's Taiko to this rack. Lol.
I've got 2-Op FM with the E352 and BIA is ultimately pretty similar to an FM percussion sound, so the ALM modules will have to wait for a little while. You've got that market cornered!
Perhaps this is a rookie problem though.
I would say that it is. I made what I would consider a similar mistake, building my rack with an eye towards form over function at first to some extent. I still like to group many of modules by manufacturer, but I am mindful to organize everything in a functional way first.
If it comes down to it though, I'm not paying an extra $100 for a module that is aesthetically pleasing over one that has the exact same circuitry. I guess I'd prefer to have my modular all one color, but it's a patchwork because that's what made the most sense from a playability perspective.
I know what you mean though - I need to move soon - so I have more space for cases (amongst other things!)
For real. It’s time for a new place. My lifetime collection of vinyl records already has its own bedroom, so I need to be really careful about taking up any more room than necessary in my current space. For my wife’s sanity! Haha
at your stage of filled case - I'd be looking for the next case!
I'm maxed out on space, so anything I decide to add means that something else has to go. The Blck_Noir and Panharmonium are the likely candidates to get replaced eventually, but I'm in no hurry. I'm still having so much fun with this setup.
Gosh, that's amazing. I wouldn't know where to start. Hats off to you for creating such a beautiful constellation of modules. I have no idea even what most of those modules do. But no Beads? And no sample modules? You must be able to squeeze something in. I suppose the Disting mk2 can sample. For myself, I like the idea of sample modules in modular... it takes me back to Musique concrète... those were the days...
Funny you mention that... I started off with a granular and sampling approach (Clouds, Radio Music, and Phonogene) for musique concrete style stuff, but didn't really enjoy working with samples. I have the Erica Sample Drum which can record and load samples, but I haven't really been using it in that way. And, I still get my glitch fix from the Data Bender.
I think sampling is an art form unto itself, and I'm just not passionate or skilled enough to join that world.
Haha. Man, I've had so many different iterations including a matrix mixer. Doepfer, AI, Future Sound Systems, Instruo... I can get a little of that from the Happy Nerding 3xMIA and I've considered adding another of those when they become available again. I think there is a shortage in the dual concentric pots.
But, yeah... I'm sort of avoiding too many utilities, logic modules, and such that discourage a hands on approach. That's why I've got a few mixers without VCAs. I like to pretend I'm Lee "Scratch" Perry mixing an incredible dub session. hahaha
Awesome guidance. I was lucky to find the CRT in relatively good condition locally for $20 on Facebook Marketplace. It was the exact one I was looking for.
I've only posted a few videos on Youtube that I experimented with last summer. I was just getting started so they're definitely novice and nothing too interesting, but I'm planning another multimedia project involving glitch video soon. I'm going to refine my process and I'll post something here when I start working on the project.
I'm on Instagram as cierny _ vlk _ farkas and Youtube as Cierny Vlk.
As a relative noob to the modular world, I’ve been trying to share a few long-winded updates on my thought process, mistakes, rack, and music every couple of months for the last year. It's nothing profound, but I thought it may help other noobs in their planning, and writing it out helps me make sense of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. So, here is the latest update and my very limited wisdom.
Long story short, I’ve been around synths, recording, and DJ equipment for 20+ years but got disillusioned with making music and stopped completely for years. I stumbled upon the world of Eurorack in 2019 and became inspired again. So, I dove in headfirst and have few regrets. I started out with one Make Noise skiff and a couple of the most popular modules that everyone else seems to have. I had about 50 different genres of music I wanted to explore, and while modular is great for that I found that paring my approach down to just a few styles was much more fulfilling. To my surprise, even though I narrowed the types of sounds I was trying to make, my rack kept growing!
It’s true what everyone says, you need a lot of utilities and support modules to make the most of modular… and that requires a bigger case than you could possibly imagine when you are starting out. I am just about maxed out on “studio” space, so I really can’t go much bigger than this final planned iteration of my rack. It’s almost double what I had initially planned, and almost a completely different set of modules than I thought I wanted when I started out. Allow yourself some flexibility in size, budget, and module choice. I realize that many noobs are just looking for something small to supplement their other studio gear, but I imagine most of those people will quickly tire of the limited sound palette and possibilities of that small supplemental mini-rack. Not to mention the terrible ergonomics of a bunch of 2hp and 4hp modules sitting side by side in a small skiff. (I must reiterate that I’m not a wealthy man, but I made some sacrifices and picked up extra responsibilities to pay for this monstrosity.)
I recently debated getting a Doepfer monster base/case (thanks @GarfieldModular for the Doepfer case breakdown) but ultimately decided on four TipTop Mantis cases joined with brackets. This is for reasons of cost, power, portability, and aesthetics, as I already have two Mantises and three Make Noise skiffs. The Doepfer cases are amazing, but the Mantis works for me. I emailed TipTop yesterday, and they have an ETA of mid- to late-April for replenishing Mantis stock at retailers.
On several occasions I have bought cheaper, smaller, or less fully featured modules than what I actually needed, thinking, “Oh, I can probably make this work…” Bad idea, and a waste of time and money! Don’t cut corners. Save up for what you actually need to accomplish your goals. Move on quickly from modules that you don’t gel with. Don’t let them take up valuable space and collect dust in your rack just because you made a bad decision and think that you will get around to mastering it “someday”. You won’t. Fill that expensive-ass rack space with something that you want to use constantly.
I like to listen to generative music as much as anyone, but I made a conscious decision to reject that with my rack. With Spotify and other data-collection companies actively stealing (or paying fractions of pennies for) the work and ideas of artists in order to create artificially intelligent generative music that sounds like those artists, I wanted a much more human and interactive approach to making music. Mylarmelodies actually had a great conversation with BT about this kind of data-mining, intellectual property theft, and generative music on his “Why We Bleep” podcast if you are interested. So, what I decided to do with my module choice and music is sort of a mash-up of conceptual/dada/Fluxus art, minimal techno, post-punk, and noise. Kind of Merzbow meets Plastikman at Cabaret Voltaire’s house. It’s really focused on interaction and the limitations of the man/technology relationship. Probably sounds pretentious, but it is what it is… haha. I’ve limited the inclusion of menu-divey and button-combo heavy modules for this reason. The level of module complexity that one is comfortable with is definitely one of the choices that new folks need to contemplate right away.
I love the Rings into Clouds into Beads, perfectly lit, fern and herbal tea, sit-back-and listen, ambient videos as much as anyone, but that approach isn’t authentic to who I am and what I want to say with music. I’m more of a gritty lo-fi mess full of mistakes and impulsive decisions. I think my rack reflects that. I encourage all the other noobs to think about what they ultimately want to express. Hopefully it’s not just about increasing social media follower counts, clicks, “content creation,” and “engagement” with the newest shiniest module. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but there are probably far cheaper ways of doing it. If that is your mode of authentic expression, I say, “Go for it! The more the merrier in modular land.”
So, anyway… here is my rack. I already have most of this, but still have about 104hp left to buy and fill. I may yet make a few small changes. In general, I’ve arranged sound sources and effects at the top, drums and modulation in the middle, and sequencing and mixing in the bottom. I have sprinkled some utilities throughout just because of my workflow, cable management, and where I would get the most use out of every module. I’ve been doing my best to incorporate interactive modules that encourage a live performance approach in the bottom row. The arrangement actually took quite a long time, multiple virtual and physical rearrangements, and finally makes sense to me based on my personal experience. @JimHowell1970’s post a few days ago really resonated with my personal experience of trying to create a playable instrument even as it grows to nearly unmanageable size. This is a never-ending process. Other things I’ve found: There is no good place to put Disting Mk4. It’s such a versatile and useful module, that I can never quite find the right place for it. Also, Doepfer is your friend when it comes to utilities (and most other things too)!
Please feel free to roast my rack, ask questions about modules or arrangement, or share your philosophy on creating music. To any other noobs reading this, above all have fun. This ain’t brain surgery.
Thanks for your time, and enjoy your weekend!
do you have a tv in your studio? most seem to like crts (if you can find one with component in jump on it) but I use lcds - a different 'vibe' but looks great to me (all my instagram footage is lcd filmed on an iPhone - hence the crappy audio!)
Jim, I was wondering how you film your Instagram posts. They always look great.
I've dipped my toes into the circuit-bent glitch video world, but have not gone down the video synthesis path (yet). I've been using a Sony WEGA CRT. It seems to mostly avoid cutting out with the glitch processors without a time based corrector. Otherwise, I'm just using an Edirol V4 and a few handmade glitch effects I picked up on etsy. Your video rack and productions are impressive.